A graphic of Tennessee featuring images of cowboy boots, a treble clef and a star
Illustration by Julie Chow, University of California, Berkeley

6 ‘Must-Do’ Attractions To Check Out in Nashville, TN

If you're planning on heading to the city, check out the list below for some super fun activities to do while you're there!
June 10, 2021
11 mins read

Nashville is a booming, bustling city with hundreds of places for tourists and locals alike to visit. There are fun activities to participate in and restaurants to eat at — but where do you even start? We’ve got you and your trip covered from shopping and eating, to touring and exploring and everything in between.

1. Shop at Opry Mills Mall

Feel the urge to shop? At Opry Mills mall you can shop ’til you drop. This outlet has everything you need: athletic stores like Nike, boutiques like Francesca’s, popular clothing brands like American Eagle and Old Navy and more. If you want it, Opry Mills probably has it — the outlet mall even has a Build-a-Bear Workshop, GameStop and a Regal Cinema to satisfy your entertainment needs.

Plus, there are dozens of food options for when your stomach starts rumbling, from popular sit-down restaurants like Chuy’s, Macaroni Grill and the Rainforest Café, to places you can grab a quick pick-me-up like an Auntie Anne’s pretzel or a bag of German-roasted nuts. The mall also offers a host of high-end stores like Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Polo Ralph Lauren, etc. Regardless of your style or budget, you’ll be able to find something at Opry Mills mall, and you’ll surely have fun roaming the stores for hours on end.

2. Get a Backstage Tour of the Grand Ole Opry

There’s no question that Nashville is famous for its country music — in fact, it’s often referred to as “Music City.” And nothing’s as iconic as the Grand Ole Opry, a country music stage that has hosted thousands of America’s most famous country music artists since its opening in 1925. Whether you’re a die-hard country music fan or just someone who appreciates music in general, the Grand Ole Opry is a must-see, located right across the way from the Opry Mills mall.

If you have the chance, experiencing the Opry for yourself at a live concert is a completely unique experience. You can get a glimpse into the action in videos, but being a live audience member is unforgettable. Nevertheless, whether you can see a concert or not, the backstage tours are worth the investment. The Opry boasts several options for tours: the daytime tour, the post-show tour and the behind-the-curtain star experience.


3. Explore a Museum

If you tour the Grand Ole Opry but find that you’re still hungry for more country music history, check out the Country Music Hall of Fame. It not only holds the title for one of the largest museums in the United States, but it also has one of the world’s most extensive music collections. Plus, the floors are filled with fun and interactive exhibits and displays that entertain people of all ages — even those not very interested in country music.

There are also several other museums sprinkled throughout the city, so be sure to take a look to see if any interest you. If you’re not a museum buff but you enjoy the outdoors, explore the Nashville Parthenon located at the heart of Centennial Park.


4. Try out Nashville Specialties

It can be scary to step out and try new things, but Nashville is not the city to be shy when it comes to eating a variety of delicious, different cuisines. If you’re a fan of hot chicken, Hattie B’s might have to be your first lunch stop. Nashville has you covered at every time of day from breakfast at Pancake Pantry or Biscuit Love, to dinner and bowling at Pinewood Social.

You’ll probably discover that your schedule may revolve around food — but who says that’s wrong? Other Nashville hits include casual barbeque joints like Edley’s or Martin’s, bistros like Liberty Common and more elegant spots like Capitol Grille and Stoney River Steakhouse. If you’re in the mood for Italian, Maggiano’s Little Italy is a personal favorite, although Amerigo’s is another highly regarded Italian restaurant.

5. Eat Dessert

Trust me — this is not the place to skip out on dessert. Nashville has a host of famous dessert places from bakeries to ice cream creameries to cookie shops. If you’re in the mood for candy, there’s a fun candy shop located right on Broadway with Goo Goo Clusters right around the corner. As for cookies, Christie Cookie Co. on 12th South or Crumbl Cookies live up to the hype.

If you’re an ice-cream lover, you’ll fall in love with Legendairy’s over-the-top, elaborately decorated milkshakes — they’re worth the expense, especially if you split it with a friend. Five Daughters’ Bakery is another Nashville classic, but I recommend going early in the day if you’re aiming to snag one of their famous donuts because they go fast. And of course, you can’t forget Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which lines many Nashville street corners. If you’re looking for good coffee, there are dozens of websites that pitch their favorite Nashville coffee shops.


6. Explore the Shops & Restaurants on Broadway

You’ll find that Broadway is one of the central hubs of downtown Nashville. The streets are lined with gift shops filled with souvenirs and T-shirts showing the Nashville skyline, cowboy boot stores, restaurants and honky tonks (aka bars with live music) to the point that some call lower Broadway “Honky Tonk Highway.” All you have to do is roll down your window when driving past Music Row to hear live country music. There are also several restaurants and bars owned by famous country music artists from Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, to Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row.

The streets surrounding Broadway are loaded with even more delicious restaurants, so there’s no question you’ll have plenty of choices. The hardest thing will be deciding what places to visit on Broadway out of so many options. Nightlife typically begins around 10 p.m. and can last until 3 a.m. It can become a bit rowdy, so be aware of the time if you prefer to avoid the craziness.

There’s also a new area called 5th + Broadway that recently opened and which functions as its own little world. There are two stories featuring an indoor food court and an outdoor area lined with stores, dessert places, coffee shops and more. It’s a really cool experience and definitely worth exploring for an hour or two — especially since parking is very affordable and readily available, which not all of Nashville can claim. Furthermore, it’s so close to the rest of downtown that you have to stop by Nashville’s newest “hangout,” if only to take a picture with one of the cute murals.

There’s a lot to see in Nashville and even more to do. Whether it’s taking pictures at all of the murals in 12th South, taking tours of Nashville museums, walking down Broadway or eating good food, you’ll quickly discover that there’s more than you can possibly do in just one trip, especially if you’re walking everywhere.

If you can, try to drive through the different areas of Nashville — the Gulch, 12th South, Downtown, Hillsboro Village, East Nashville, etc. — to get a feel for the entire city. And those areas don’t even cover south Nashville, which includes Brentwood and Franklin. You can also stay somewhere fun like the Graduate, themed after Dolly Parton and featuring a large pink, chicken-wire bust of Dolly on the rooftop surrounded by a luxury pool and all things pink to enhance your Nashville experience. There’s a lot of really unique hotels in Nashville worth staying in. So what are you waiting for? Text a friend, buy a plane ticket, book a hotel and head to Nashville! You won’t regret it.


Julianna Steen, Auburn University

Writer Profile

Julianna Steen

Auburn University
English Literature, minoring in History

A few of my favorite things include reading romance novels, watching action movies, baking (and consuming) anything chocolate, creating for my business, He is Simply Goodness, and going on adventures with friends and family!

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